STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Bowlers at Rab’s Country Lanes in Dongan Hills have been privy to some fantastical food this winter. Chef Joe Labita amped up the alley’s game with gourmet burgers, admirable wings and assorted sandwiches. With a burgeoning business and frequent fliers to 1600 Hylan Blvd. coming just to sample the goods, owner Frank Wilkinson has decided to renovate the operation.
This Wednesday, while pins crashed in the backdrop, “The Dish” broadcast live from Rab’s. Up for tasting were the “Steakhouse” wagyu and Pat LaFrieda blended beef patties now coming from this unlikely food destination, long known for its pizza. Since the summer, Labita has rounded out its menu with all-day breakfast, quesadillas, salads and brined-buttermilk soaked boneless chicken preparations served in a crisp tempura.
Labita comes to Rab’s from a few big name kitchens in the region. Black Tap of Manhattan honed his burger acumen. Classic culinary skills were gleaned from the busy line at Tavern on the Green. And the Italian food inspiration hails from working alongside owners of Villa Monte owners Tony Mandara and his brother Augie.
Plans for the future include a shake station, smoked foods and seasonal spins. Right now, for instance, corned beef makes the lineup for the week both as a traditional platter and fried atop an unctuous burger with kraut and melted Swiss on a buttered brioche bun.
Ultimately, Labita said, “I want to keep it simple and focus on the meat.”
As for renovations, Wilkinson said, “We’re adding some counter seats and a full cosmetic redesign. Plus, we’re reimagining the open kitchen with a new design and equipment.”
That will happen in the coming weeks. And to rabid Rab’s fans: there will be no food service interruptions.
Wilkinson said after months of shutdowns during COVID, the bowling alley has had a steady resurgence. He explained, “People are looking to be together and looking for new looking to enjoy new experiences. Nothing’s better than the experience of bowling with great food and drink.”
He added, “The winning combination is like rolling a perfect game as well!”
Rab’s offers two coin-op billiard tables and a full service bar with 14 beers on tap including Flagship Brewing Co. styles.
Hours are 9 a.m. to midnight. On Friday and Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Rab’s can be found at 1600 Dongan Hills, 718-979-1600; Bowlatrabs.com.